Do you like to read? What do you like to read? When do you find the time to read? Reading can sometimes be a chore or a momentary escape from real life. But it can also be an adventure and an education!
Previously, I stated that one of my goals for 2016 is to read 18 books. Basically that breaks down to a book and a half a month. I also mentioned that last year was my first year to set a reading goal (a book a month) and actually exceeded that by one! Which I was pretty excited about until I heard Crystal Paine (of moneysavingmom.com) talk about how she read 74 books last year, and that being fewer than she had read the previous year! And I’m over here all “I read 13 books! Go me!” I realize I’ve got a long way to go. Also, I don’t encourage comparison, ever.
I am actually happy with my “measly” 13 books – that is growth for me! You see, when I was in college (more years ago than I can wrap my mind around) I majored in English. I have always loved to write so this seemed like a good fit for me. But as it turns out, my degree required about a 3:1 ratio on literature to composition classes (plus the random 3 semesters of a foreign language I had to take in order to get my English degree. Go figure.) If I could have had my way, I would have spent all of my time in composition classes writing my heart out (never mind that there was no way on earth I could have actually kept up with the homework load for 18 hours of composition while also working 30 hours a week, but anyway…) So after spending, what seemed like forever reading books, poems, short stories, journals, plays, and probably to-do lists from every writer who died at least 200 years ago, I walked across that stage, received my diploma, and swore off reading for the foreseeable future. (Side note: if you should decide to get a degree in English expect to frequently answer the question, “Do you plan to teach?” No, no I don’t. Though my children are fluent, thank you very much!)
It was close to a solid 5 years before I willingly and by my own choice picked up a book to read, and only because my coworker kept raving about it and then leant me her copy. (It was the first in the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, by Neta Jackson.)
I’ve spent the last few years figuring out what I do and don’t like to read. If it feels like a chore after the first three chapters, I chuck it. I’ve found I mostly gravitate toward memoirs and general nonfiction. I like books that challenge me to grow, so mostly I don’t mess with fiction. And since I am always looking for other’s recommendations on books, I thought I’d share my 2015 book list with you!
- Windy City Neighbors: Grounded (Neta Jackson) – Same author of the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, and the only fiction I seek out. Her characters are very real, dealing with real-life issues and relationships with God. Plus through her (now 3) different series, she kept some recurring characters who make surprise visits. And since I feel like these people are my friends (and I’ve known them longer than I’ve known my children!) I keep going back for more. I mean it’s rude to not stay in touch with your friends!
- What Women Fear (Angie Smith) – Smith is both funny/sarcastic and intensely serious. I think we would be good friends! In this book, she details many common fears that women have: rejection, betrayal, loss, and others, and what Scripture says about them and ultimately how Jesus redeems them.
- Son of Hamas (Mosab Hassan Yousef) – This was one that I was honestly almost scared to read. Ignorance is bliss, you know? As the son of one of the leaders of the Hamas terrorist group, you get an inside look into evil. What drew me to this book was that the story is also about Yousef becoming a believer and follower of Christ! (This is not a spoiler: you can read this on the back of the book.)
- Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape (Jenna Miscavige Hill) – The title pretty much says it all. Hill grew up as the niece of the leader of Scientology and details her life inside, the brainwashing, and her life-changing escape. A very interesting read indeed!
- Mended (Angie Smith) – Again, I love Angie Smith! This one reads a lot like several blog posts or journal entries put into a book. Which was nice because it kept the chapters short and easily consumable in a short sitting (An added bonus for this busy mom!) The most beautiful part of this book to me was when she tells a story of how God instructed her to break this ceramic pitcher she had by throwing it on the concrete, and then told her to glue it back together. You’ll have to read it for yourself if you want to find out why!
- Windy City Neighbors: Derailed (Neta Jackson) – Just visiting my old friends again!
- Pursue the Intentional Life (Jean Fleming) – This one was good but a little slow to me. Fleming talks about keeping an “old woman” file when she was younger: things she wanted to do, be, or remember when she got older. She challenges her reader to live on purpose with the time we’ve been given. She references Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” That was probably my biggest takeaway from this book is just this one verse! It’s a good one to remember for sure!
- No Other Gods (Kelly Minter) – I had never read anything by Kelly Minter before this book. She is a women’s Bible teacher and has some good-looking group studies that I would love to do someday! In this book, Minter seeks to point out all of the different gods in hiding our lives, the idols we live with unaware, and how God offers us freedom from them.
- I Dared to Call Him Father (Bilquis Sheikh) – Another story of a devout Muslim becoming a follower of Christ. I could honestly read these all day – the story of God’s power in other people’s live (of course, that is kind of what I’m about: seeing other people share the stories God has written in and with their lives.)
- Crazy Love (Francis Chan) – I realize I am a few years behind on getting around to this one. I happened to find it at a garage sale. I read this while lying on the beach in the Dominican Republic (my vacation goal for last year!) Let me just say, that was not the best choice of books to read while taking some posh vacation because I’m a privileged American. Chan rips apart comfort and extravagance, and challenges his readers to take Jesus seriously when He says to love the poor and take care of the orphan and widow and the poor. Easy to say; hard to live.
- Money Making Mom (Crystal Paine) – I had the honor of being selected for Paine’s launch team for this book! It was definitely not some boring business book but really made me think outside the box, for both myself and others, how I, as a stay-at-home mom, might both contribute to our family’s income and pursue something I love. You can read my full review here.
- For The Love (Jen Hatmaker) – This was, hands down, the best book I read all year! Hatmaker is so stinking hilarious and yet deeply serious at the same time. Never have I read so much of a book aloud to whoever is around me, or sent so many quotes or pictures of entire pages via text to friends! This book is really hard to describe, and yet it has become the bar up against which I hold every other book. “On a scale of 1 to For The Love…” This is not fair to other books, but they’ll get over it. I’ve told many that, next to the Bible, this is my favorite book of all time. (Although, there are rumors that she’s going to be writing another book in the same format as For The Love, so we’ll see if the pedestal sticks!)
- Freefall to Fly (Rebekah Lyons) – This was the book that ended my year. Coming off of For The Love it was a little slower moving, but in the end I really loved it! Lyons is extremely vulnerable and transparent as she details her battle with insecurity and panic attacks, and how God healed her in the tension of these not by making her comfortable again but by increasing her trust and awareness of Him. A beautiful story of a girl and her Maker.
I hope at least one of these titles piqued your interest! That’s a lot of information, I know, but I really wanted to give you a brief summary of each book so you can decide whether or not it might be something you’d like to pick up.
So tell me, what did you read in 2015? What do you plan on reading in 2016? What would you recommend I read in 2016? I am always looking for new suggestions, and I appreciate your insight! Happy Reading!
*This post contains affiliate links. This means I receive an affiliate commission from purchases made from these links.